A woman and her dog walks past the UBC sign at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Tuesday, Apr 23, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

UBC conference draws fire over speaker from Chinese tech company blacklisted in U.S.

The company that has been blacklisted by the U.S. over links to the repression of China’s Muslim minority

A conference hosted by University of British Columbia students is facing criticism for having a speaker from a Chinese company that has been blacklisted by the United States over links to the repression of China’s Muslim minority.

The UBC China Forum, a business conference organized by members of the university’s BizChina Club, lists SenseTime executive director Jimmy Zhou as one of its confirmed speakers.

The artificial intelligence company, which produces facial recognition software among its core technologies, was one of eight companies blacklisted by the U.S. last month for being implicated in China’s repression and mass detention of the country’s Uyghur community.

Mehmet Tohti, founder of the Uyghur Canadian Society said it ”shocks our conscience” that the executive was being given a platform in Canada to advance the interests of the Chinese Community Party.

“I am disappointed to see that Canada has become the safe heaven of Chinese propaganda and CCP-backed Chinese enterprises,” he said by email.

“SenseTime…and other Chinese companies should be condemned and sanctioned by Canada for their complicity with CCP regime in interning more than three million Uyghurs in concentration camps without any due process.”

UBC president Santa Ono said in a video promoting the forum that he was “proud” the students were bringing a conference to UBC that follows on similar forums held at Harvard, Wharton and the London School of Economics.

The university said in a statement that the conference was a student initiative, focused on exploring business ideas between China and Canada, and directed any questions on the speakers to the student organizers.

The BizChina group did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the forum, which is set to begin on Saturday.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology said last month it was reviewing its relationships with Chinese artificial intelligence companies after news of the blacklisting. The MIT-SenseTime Alliance on Artificial Intelligence funds multiple research projects.

SenseTime has said it is misunderstood and is actively developing its artificial intelligence code of ethics. It said it was “deeply disappointed” by the decision by the U.S. to blacklist the firm.

ALSO READ: ‘Shame on you’: Demonstrators protest China-sponsored event

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pig destined for sanctuary goes missing from Cobble Hill farm

Berleen was less than two weeks from travelling to Manitoba when she vanished

Editorial: Mask wearing: innocuous advice has turned into polarizing war

Somehow, this innocuous recommendation has become a polarizing war for some.

UPDATED: Young deckhands backed out of fatal Arctic Fox II trip just before fishboat departed

Inexperienced twin brothers had ‘gut feeling’ and bailed before going to open ocean

Cowichan’s Dillabaugh checks in from the NHL bubble in Toronto

Flyers’ Duncan-born goalie coach weighs in on hockey restart

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Watchdog clears Okanagan RCMP in death of man after arrest over alleged stolen pizzas

The man died in hospital after having difficulty breathing and broken ribs

Health Canada says several kids hospitalized after eating edible pot products

People warned not to store cannabis products where children can find them

‘It’s not just about me’: McKenna cites need to protect politicians from threats

Police investigation was launched after someone yelled obscenities at a member of McKenna’s staff

Michigan plans dedicated road lanes for autonomous vehicles

First study of its kind in the U.S. to figure out whether existing lanes or shoulders could be used

Filmmaker James Cameron’s Comox Valley winery up for sale

The director behind The Terminator and Titanic puts Beaufort Winery on the market after six years

Large missing python found ssssafe in Victoria after being on the lam for weeks

The snake was located more than six kilometres from where it went missing

B.C. announces multi-year plan to double treatment beds for youth with addiction

This will bring the total number of new beds specific to those 12 to 24 years old to 247 province-wide

B.C. man who nearly died from COVID-19 reflects on one-month battle

Robert Billyard was in an induced coma to ensure his body would not fight the ventilator to breathe

Most Read